How tiny is tiny?

Updated: Jun 20, 2019

The first decision to make after deciding to go ahead and build is how big to build. You can build from really tiny to is-it-possible-to-tow-that-thing big. But how do you decide?

These are the questions I’ve been asking myself to help make that decision:

  1. How often am I going to move it? The smaller it is the easier it will be to move.

  2. What does easy to move mean? What sort of vehicle will I need to move a 4.5t trailer in Australia?

  3. What sort of locations will I be restricted from if I go big-tiny?

  4. How much time/resources/effort will be added if I go big-tiny over small-tiny?

  5. How much to I want to simplify my life in the first stage?

I actually can’t answer a lot of these questions. I don’t know if I am going to want to wander the earth or stay put. With so few people in Australia owning Tiny Houses, I don’t know how I’m going to tow the thing. I figure worst case scenario I can hire someone to do it for me. I don’t know about the locations – I guess I’ll learn that for Tiny House No. 2. I could work out the cost of an extra few feet but to be honest that’s not so important.

Since I am new to both tiny houses and building I have decided to build off a purchased plan, and those plans come in lengths of small-tiny (18’/ 5.5m) medium-tiny (20’/ 6m), and big-tiny(24’/7.3m). Before the workshop I was sure I wanted a 20′ tiny house i.e. medium-tiny. Pretty much because it was the middle option. Not the biggest option nor the smallest option. I thought it just seemed to be a good place to start.

But then at the workshop the people who had built tiny houses said they wished they had built smaller. And by smaller they are talking smaller than 18′. That would be tiny-tiny. The matriarch and patriarch of tiny houses (Dee Williams and Jay Shafer) themselves live in 12′ houses. I think this is because tiny really is a journey and when people start to see the benefits of simplifying their life they get addicted to it and want to continue to remove the excess.

I know this feeling. A few years ago, more out of dread of moving all those books and CDs one more time, I went about an exercise of simplifying my own life. I digitised all my music and books. I threw away my university notes I had been lugging around because of the effort I put into them. And it felt GOOD. Ever since then I have been continuing to remove the clutter. And the thing is that a lot of the barriers that I had created to prevent that turned out to be flimsy. Like “I love my books so much and I love to see them”. A lot of people feel that way. Really all that means is “I want to be reminded of the stories I love like a framed photograph of my loved ones”. So take a photo of the spines of your favourite books. Seriously. How often do you re-read those books? If you had those books on kindle you could access it ANY time. Like when you are on vacation and didn’t bring the hard copy. Or when you want to hunt down your favourite quote (you can bookmark those on kindle). It would be easier. The truth is that whilst I thought I would miss those books I have never regretted my decision to convert to digital. And now I don’t need to pack those heavy boxes of books every time I move.

I have not regretted one single down-sizing measure I have taken so far, so why not save myself some time and money and go small-tiny?

Oh, I do have some excuses why not, so let’s take a look at those.

My Excuses to not to go Small-Tiny

  1. I have a lot of sporting equipment that I love to use – often.

  2. I won’t have room for a washing machine, and I hate laundromats more than I hate washing.

  3. I love cooking and may have to downsize beyond my needs

That’s really it. I thought I’d have a longer list but its the first 2 that get me stuck.

My answer to the first excuse is to build a tiny workshop. Yes, a second tiny house. And yes, that is definitely a risky thing to do when down-sizing because it could well become the “hoarding-room” but I think I will resist the urge. Of course I don’t want to be building 2 tiny houses at the same time, so my interim solution is a cargo trailer. Something that I can tow with my existing car (RAV4). This is where I will store all my sporting equipment such as my mountain bike, my road bike, my surfboard, my paraglider, my tools to fix the above and continue to tweak my tiny house. SOLVED.

The second excuse is a little harder to solve. So there are various laundry solutions out there which represent various levels of convenience.

  1. Hand-wash. Just no.

  2. Manual washer like the WonderWash. Maybe

  3. Portable Washing machine like the Companion. Maybe but won’t save much space.

  4. Smaller normal washing machine. Trying not to.

A part of me says go the WonderWash – it’s simple and it has good reviews. One of the presenters at the workshop told us her laundry tip was to own merino wool clothing. Its expensive but it drys quick and you have to wash less often. That combined with a WonderWash sounds good. And then I have more space for my kitchen!

And the third excuse is also quite crumbly. I am in the situation right now where I thought I was going to San Francisco to work for 5 weeks and that has slowly been extended to 6 months. I have been lucky enough to end up in an apartment that has good basic kitchen appliances (oven, stove-top) but poor tools. Not wanting to re-purchase my entire kitchen back home I have been forced to consider what the essential tools are for me to enjoy cooking. Turns out, it’s not that much.

So I think I have answered my own question here and its the only question of the original 5 questions I asked that I can answer. I want to simplify my life considerably. So small-tiny seems the way to go. Let’s see how the floor-plan looks.

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